Ding! I opened the rather heavy glass door of the little shop, setting off the little bell on the upper corner of the door, letting the shop owner know that a customer was in the shop. The shop was in a sketchy part of town, but I am honestly desperate at this point. I must find a gift for my fiancé, Valerie, soon because our three-year anniversary dinner is this afternoon, and frankly I do not want to show up with a Starbucks gift card like I have the previous years (as you can probably tell I am terrible at giving gifts and don’t even get me starting on Christmas season…). The shop was called Foreign Treasures, and it was strangely dark and stuffy. Foreign Treasures sold exotic jewelry, antique furniture, extravagant rungs, robes and scarves of many colors, and clear-cut mirrors that could be found all throughout the shop. I headed toward what seemed to be the jewelry section of the store; girls loved jewelry so I figured this was a safe bet to start out with. As I was looking at the jewelry, I heard a door creak open toward the back part of the store, a man with an unsettling appearance came out. He had eyes the color of pitch black and wrinkly skin that looked to be too yellow to be natural. He grinned a creepy smile once he noticed me displaying his rather impressive set of teeth that could probably rip out your insides. I’m sure he is a nice man.
“Hello, welcome to Foreign Treasures! Is there anything I can help you with?”
“Umm, do you any recommendations on gift ideas for a fiancé?” I asked, reasoning that if I get help I could get out of this eerie store faster.
“Oh, a present for a lucky lady? Let me see.” He led me to another part of the shop that had a giant glass case filled with the most sparkling of jewelry. I could already feel my wallet screaming. “These are one of our most precious gemstone jewelries that most of my female customers seem to enjoy. I am pretty sure you will find something that your fiancé will like.” He grinned even wider.
I skimmed through the glass case until I noticed a necklace that caught my eye. It had semi-thick gold chain and attacked was a perfectly smooth and glossy stone that reflected every color of the rainbow, creating an ethereal glow. Without thinking much about it, I pointed to the necklace and asked, “I want that one. How much for it?”
“Ahh…I see you have quite a taste for precious gemstones. I bought this one not too long ago for a hefty price, but I am willing to make a bargain with you. How about $250? Normally, this is priced at $400 but since you seem such a nice young boy, I will make the exception.”
Hey, I wasn’t going to turn down a great deal so I agreed, already reaching for my wallet in the pocket of my jeans and bought it rather impulsively.
“I hope the lucky lady likes her gift. She will find that it is more than what meets the eye,” he said with an expression that seem to hide more than tell. I had no time to dwell on the fact and bade the shop owner farewell. I hurried home to get ready for the anniversary dinner.
A shower later and a serious hair taming session later, I pulled up in front of Valerie’s apartment building, and I got out of my car and entered the building. I walked up the stairs and headed toward her apartment. I reached her apartment, and I was ready to knock on her apartment door with my hand ready, but the door opened before I could knock.
“Thomas, I didn’t know you knew what a shower was,” she said with her signature smirk. She reached up on her tippy toes to ruffle my blonde hair, that I obviously did not take thirty minutes fixing (whatever). She looked beautiful as she always did with her dark brown hair loose in waves and a classic red dress, but often, she makes it difficult sometimes for me to compliment her when she throws insults me.
“Valerie, I didn’t know you wore dresses,” I responded back.
She hugged me very tightly, and I hugged her tightly wrapping my arms around her waist.
“Gosh, I don’t know how I survived three years with you,” she muffled through the tight embrace. “Me either.”
We arrived at the fancy Italian restaurant that I obviously could not afford, and we were seated right away since I had made reservations a week ago (my wallet is screaming again).
“Wow, this restaurant is so nice. How could you afford this Thomas? You’re the only guy I know that uses coupons as often as you eat.” Hey, when you’re a student at graduate school and planning to get married soon, saving money is on the top of your priority list.
“Umm, I pulled a couple of strings,” I said while scratching my head nervously. By that, I meant I picked up extra shifts at work, and cleaned my dirty Uncle Earl’s feet (the things I do for love…).
“I know we usually give gifts after dinner, but I don’t think I can wait any longer to give you my gift, Thomas. So close your eyes.” I closed my eyes, silently praying that by surprise she doesn’t mean throw the cocktail shrimp at my face (it’s happened before).
She grabbed my hand and cups it, and I feel something cold and metal-like being placed in my cupped hands. Valerie tells me to open my eyes.
It was the silver banded bracelet that I had lost almost six months ago on a trip to Europe, and I was devastated because it was the last thing my father gave to me before he died of terminal cancer. I flipped the band to find my father’s name engraved into the bracelet: NATHAN D. PETROV. I almost cried.
“Thank you so much.” I leaned in to give her a loving kiss on the lips in which she gladly returned.
“I guess it’s my turn now.” I reached into the pocket of my grey blazer for the small box that contained the necklace.
“Let me guess. Another Starbucks gift card?”
I smiled and gave her the small white box. “Not this time.”
She opened the box and gasped at the gift, placing her small hand on her mouth.
“Do you like it?” I asked nervously, secretly praying that the little shop takes returns.
She looked at me with tears in her brown eyes. Oh no, she hates the gift.
Unexpectedly, she gives me an aggressive kiss on the lips and hugs me tightly.
“Wow, this is the best gift you have ever given me,” she sniffles.
I took the necklace from her hands, and I placed it around her neck for her to wear. It looked stunning on her. Unfortunately, the romantic moment did not last long.
There was a trembling roar that shook throughout the restaurant, causing everything to vibrate Elegant, and startled screams could be heard. China plates and Champaign glasses fell off tables and flew across the room like deadly throwing knives. To make matters worse, the glass windows shattered into tiny sharp pieces by the sheer force of this mysterious earthquake, leaving empty frames.
In those frames, entered the most weird and ugliest creatures I have ever seen. They were huge with various skin colors that screamed supernatural with antennaes, more than two bulky arms, and deadly foreign weapons that made machine guns look like water guns. Their eyes were yellow, and they displayed a large set of razor sharp fangs that could tear easily into human flesh. The biggest creature of them all, wearing what seemed to be a golden crown, looked directly at me with a glare to kill.
Valerie clutched my arm with a death grip.
“Is it just me or is that thing staring at you?”
I gulped. “Maybe he likes my blazer?”
“I don’t think so.”
The leader roared and pointed at the necklace around Valerie’s neck, “You have stolen our precious artifact, the Infinitum Gem, feeble human.”
“No wonder I got a deal on the necklace,” I mutter to myself. Valerie glared at me. “You knew about this?”
“No not really.” I don’t think Valerie has ever wanted to kill as much as she does now. I guess shopping in creepy shops in a sketchy part of town is not my smartest idea.
The alien lifts his giant solid gold staff, glowing dangerously in the night, “We will wage an intergalactic war against Earth and anyone else who stops me. You will regret the day you stole from the Potens!”
“You know, what Thomas? You should have just bought me another stupid Starbucks gift card.”